Northern Territory drink price jump blamed on recycling scheme

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 14th February 2012

The Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) has accused the Northern Territory (NT) government of breaking the promise by the government to consumers in the NT that beverage prices would not rise on account of its Container Deposit Legislation (CDL).

As previously reported by Australian Food News, the CDL was introduced in the Northern Territory on 3 January 2012.

According to the AFGC, the costs of running the CDL are overly-expensive and are now being passed on by manufacturers and retailers to the entire NT community.

Recent research cited by the AFGC has compared prices of drinks in the NT capital city Darwin, against prices in Perth the capital of Western Australia where there is no CDL. This shows Coles selling a 15-pack of Coke cans in Perth at $12 compared with Darwin at $14, a Pepsi 24 pack at $13 versus $15 in Darwin, and Corona 24 pack at $50 versus $53 in Darwin.  Woolworths has 24 packs of Coke and Becks beer selling in Darwin at $3 higher than Perth stores.  In other cases, customers are also paying up to 30 cents extra for other beverages.

The AFGC Chief Executive Kate Carnell said, “Territorians are footing the bill for CDL, and after six weeks of CDL’s operation, only 17 collection depots are operating with most of these depots located only in metropolitan areas”.

Ms Carnell added, “With almost 50 per cent of the NT’s population living in rural and remote areas, these communities are serviced by only a handful of depots in Katherine, Elliot, Tennant Creek, Alice Springs and Finke,” Ms Carnell said.

“The NT Government sold CDL to Territorians on the basis that it would clean up the Territory. But with only a few depots servicing regional and remote areas, it’s hardly worthwhile or cost-effective for these communities to pick up discarded containers and take them to a depot to get their 10 cent refund,” Ms Carnell said.

The beverage industry wrote to the NT Government in June 2011 advising that the tight timelines set by Government to establish CDL would result in confusion and frustration in the community.

The AFGC’s Ms Carnell said, “The timelines set by the NT Government were clearly unrealistic and show its complete lack of understanding of how business works, there is considerable confusion amongst business and the community”.

A recent NT Newspoll found community support for the CDL had fallen from 80 per cent in late 2011 to 56 per cent by 16 January 2011 – almost a 25 per cent drop in support over a few months.